– by Cory Gray

“130 students unpack their thoughts on identity, communication and exchange.”

The Cullity Gallery, located at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts (ALVA) on UWA’s Nedlands campus, usually plays home to hundreds of students at UWA as they fight their way through a degree of art or design. This week, however, it plays host to an exhibition displaying the work by the year 10 students of Perth Modern and Shenton College.

Contrasting the tertiary events ALVA usually hosts, this is not a standard display of art, for one thing, it was not created by students in an art class but the product of an english one, a cohort that have been experimenting with their understanding of the world at large. The students, guided by teachers from both Perth Modern and Shenton College, with the tireless efforts of Artist-in-Residence (AiR) Jessica Wilkes, have spent countless hours creating works to express their ideas and thoughts on three separately themed projects – paper, technology and nature – and gifted them to the opposite school.

The art does not simply come in physical form though, as the whole project is a type of social experiment attempting to break out from the heavily focussed academic regime these schools uphold, where the high record of academic achievement seemingly hinders the element of risk taking and, arguably, creativity.

Enhancing the experience of creating artworks displaying the youthful thoughts on identity, communication and exchange, the exchanging of artworks has been completely anonymous; with the students remaining complete strangers to each other until exhibition night.However, as all good artworks do, this raises burning questions. The project as a whole, and the anonymity between the students leaves the viewer pondering how much of an understanding of each other these students already possess, whether consciously or subconsciously, these students have been exposed to some of their counterparts deepest and most secure thoughts.

In terms of individual pieces though, we come to several that stood out among the collection:

The first project, titled “The Book of Ideas”, created by Theo Mendez for the paper theme, quotes the controversial novel ‘Catcher in The Rye’ by J.D. Salinger. This project is phenomenally gripping and finds itself questioning our understanding of not only actors, but humanity – and argues that actors play false parts, lead false lives, and lose themselves in their own lies.

Photo credit – Cory Gray

The second art work, an untitled piece by Alice Britto, a technology themed project, confronts the viewer with a powerful urge to question their reliability on technology and really analyse who, or rather which, is in control.

Photo credit – Cory Gray

The final and most profound project, is a collective piece done by all students involved at Shenton College, who wrote one line to describe their own nature themed artworks. These lines were then collated into a poem with emotional and strong words that gave this exhibition, and the entire project, an emphasis on the element of risk taking and breaking into the realm of art and creativity. It was not until the words “To an artist there is nothing ugly in nature”, (written by Shamindri Gunasekera) were spotted in this hall full of thoughts that the project was fully understood. The world is beautiful no matter how ugly you may perceive it to be, the only ugliness that exists are those that humanity creates.

Photo credit – Cory Gray

It was with reluctance that the gallery exit was sought, as it felt as though there were infinite alternate views and understandings one could perceive from this exhibition, and hours upon hours would easily be spent on simply seeking to understand the connections between the multitude of thoughts that have been given physical form.


Exhibition runs from 16th December – 19th December.

ADDRESS: cnr. Clifton St and Stirling Hwy, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009

WEBSITE: http://www.alva.uwa.edu.au/cullity-gallery

PHONE: 08 6488 2582

HOURS: Open 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday


*The Artist-in-Residence Grants Program project has been assisted by the Federal Government through the Australia Council for the Arts and the Western Australian State Government through the Department of Culture and the Arts and Department of Education.

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